For many years Lisbon was an enigma to people all around the world. The cradle of the globe-spanning Portuguese empire became a haven of axis and allied spies during the Second World War and then represented part of an outpost of dictatorship in free Western Europe. When the revolution came it seemed to be Spain which seized the initiative and attracted the tourists. Yet while the discerning always had a special affection for Lisbon, its charms are now becoming much wider known.
The area today covered by the city of Lisbon was first settled by the peripatetic Phoenicians who arrived by boat on trading missions from the Eastern Mediterranean centuries before the era of Christ. They called their settlement Alis Ubbo which translates as ‘beautiful shore’, a name as fitting today as it was all that time ago.
The city of Lisbon is, like several other cities around the world, built on seven neighbouring hills. Other cities to share this feature include Rome, Moscow, Mecca and Jerusalem. Although this is today seen as little more than a quirk of a city’s development, in former times it was seen as a powerful omen and in the past this has been credited with being a reason for the emergence of the Portuguese empire.
A powerful and deadly earthquake struck Lisbon in the year 1775. Whole swathes of the city were destroyed, including many ancient and beautiful buildings which were lost forever. The only area to escape relatively unscathed was the Alfama, which is consequently the city’s oldest district. There has been discussion in recent years about defending the city against another freak quake which could be just as destructive and even more deadly.
The statue of Christ facing Lisbon across the Tagus is called Cristo Rei. A common misconception is that the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is a scaled up version of this, however it is the other way around. The Portuguese dictator Salazar decided that he liked the Christ the Redeemer statue and that Lisbon should have its own, miniature version.
In the centre of Lisbon is the Santa Justa elevator. The elevator was designed by an apprentice of one Gustav Eiffel and the architectural descendants of his tower can be seen in the design. However, unlike the Eiffel Tower in Paris, for which a practical purpose was found only after it was built, the elevator was built, and is still used for, the express purpose of making the trip from the lower level of the city to the higher one easier. Generations of tired pensioners and others have given thanks for the idea.
Hotel Deals in Lisbon
Hotel Turim Iberia, Lisbon
The luxury 4 star Turim Iberia hotel is situated in one of Lisbon’s most prestigious areas, close to Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and Campo Pequeno.
Hotel Quinta da Marinha Resort is a 5 star Hotel located in Cascais, Portugal.
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